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Title: Mindfulness and consumerism : a social psychological investigation
Author: Armstrong, Alison J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2742 2772
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2012
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We must consume to live. However, the consumption of goods and resources in developed countries is so considerable that it is associated with low psychological wellbeing and is a contributor to several social and ecological problems. The psychological motivators that sustain such consumption may relate to attempts to resolve affect or identity difficulties, whereby consumer activities and goods offer emotional or symbolic functions. At an extreme, compulsive buyers are addicted to buying, and thus experience a range of psychological, relationship and financial difficulties. This thesis explores the concept of mindfulness as a distinctive way of thinking and being: non-judgementally aware of the present moment. Through mindfulness, human wellbeing needs can be met by shifting default perspectives around such psychologically motivated consumption. It is suggested that mindfulness can enable an improvement in wellbeing and reduced reliance on consumption behaviour or goods to fulfil affective or symbolic needs. There is a paucity of research applying mindfulness to consumption-related applications, and thus the potential mechanisms for change and possible outcomes are largely unknown or only hypothesised. To address this, three studies explore whether mindfulness has measurable potential in this area, and what is experienced when either general or compulsive buying groups learn mindfulness. The first study confirms that mindfulness is negatively related to variables connected with consumption, and positively related to wellbeing measures. The second study provides insights into learning processes and reported changes resulting from mindfulness training. Compulsive buyers were researched in the third study. Findings show that learning mindfulness brings reported change in areas related to affect regulation and sense of self experiences such that there is a decreased emphasis on consumer goods being sought for their emotional or symbolic properties. The implication from these studies is that increasing mindfulness is potentially beneficial for individual, social and ecological wellbeing.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available